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Commercial Squatting: What to Do When Your Property Has Unwanted Tenants

Empty commercial properties are prone to unlawful occupation by squatters. They may either camp illegally on your property using tents or caravans, or they may illegally occupy the building.

Having squatters on a property is not a favourable situation for any commercial landlord. Squatters may litter, vandalise the structure and conduct illegal activities within the premises. Landlords who find squatters on their grounds will surely want them removed right away.

Before taking action, remember that there are procedures on squatter and traveller eviction from commercial properties. Failure to follow them can potentially result in criminal charges against you. To avoid worsening the issue, ensure that the squatters on your property are evicted legally and properly.

Hiring an Enforcement Agency

While squatting on a non-residential property is, in itself, generally not a crime, damaging or refusing to leave said property is. But, you cannot just act of your own accord to remove those who have adversely taken possession of your property; removal of squatters using force or under threat of force is a crime.

As such, in the interests of safety and legality, it is recommended that you hire an enforcement agency to do the eviction, instead. Enforcement agencies with an enforcement licence issued by the Common Court can perform legal evictions with or without a court order. This is as long as they use force within reason only.

Removing Commercial Squatters

When you enlist the services of an enforcement agency, they will first assesses the situation and determine how it should be handled. Squatters may be evicted from your commercial property through:

Interim Possession Order (IPO)

The agency applies for and obtains an interim possession order from the court, which means that anyone who has settled on the property without your consent needs to leave within 24 hours after the order is served. The court usually takes a week to grant you an IPO, and you have to prove that the squatters are, in fact, illegally occupying the premises. You also have to provide proof that you have an immediate right to possession of the property.

If the squatters fail to comply, enforcement agencies will remove them using the appropriate force, within limits.

Common Law

Through common law eviction, enforcement agencies will try and reason with the squatters. In certain cases, agencies have police on standby near the premises to ensure that the eviction is carried out peacefully. Local authorities have statutory powers to handle the squatters if they feel that it is not safe to attempt an eviction.

Court Order

If common law eviction does not work, apply for a possession order with the County Court that has jurisdiction over your land. Once the order is granted, you can hire a certified enforcement agency to remove the trespassers. This is a longer and costlier process, and it is not a recommended course of action if you want the squatters removed quickly.

If you need help evicting squatters from your property, get in touch with MS Webb. We specialise in removing commercial squatters and travellers, and we act quickly and legally to help you recover your property.

Speak to our team of professionals by calling 0844 544 4804. You may also send us a message by filling out our contact form.

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